Should I Call 9-1-1 to Report a Reckless or Distracted Driver?
If you see a reckless or distracted driver on the road, should you call 9-1-1? The short answer is, yes. If you see someone on the road driving recklessly—whether they are texting, inebriated, overly aggressive, or otherwise—you should report it by calling 9-1-1. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when calling.
How to spot a reckless or distracted driver:
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Straddling lanes
- Stopping abruptly or without cause
- Driving with headlights off at night
- Slow response to traffic signs and signals
- Hitting or almost hitting an object, curb, or other vehicle
What to do when you encounter a reckless or distracted driver:
First, exercise extreme caution and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in question. If you feel that the situation is dangerous, report a reckless or distracted driver by calling 9-1-1. If you do call 9-1-1, pull over to place your call, if possible. A 9-1-1 dispatcher will typically ask for four things: a license plate number and/or other description of the erratic vehicle, its location, the direction in which it’s traveling, and a description of the driver's behavior. The dispatcher may also ask you to stay on the phone until police have located the reported vehicle. Listen carefully to any instructions given by the dispatcher before hanging up the phone.
What not to do when you encounter a reckless or distracted driver:
Do not follow a reckless or distracted driver or attempt to take a photo of the vehicle or its license plate, as these actions can exacerbate an already dangerous roadway situation. Likewise, never confront a reckless or distracted driver yourself. The motorist in question could potentially retaliate in unpredictable ways, especially if intoxicated. It is best to leave any interactions to the police.